Gawker editor: Journalistic ethics are a way to 'exclude the hoi polloi' from journalism

In an interview with Toronto's Globe and Mail, Gawker Editor John Cook talked about the purported Rob Ford crack tape, which his publication tried to purchase via crowdfunding. Unable to buy the tape, the site split the money between four Canadian charities. "What do you think of media ethics?" Simon Houpt asked Cook.

I think of media ethics the same way I think of plumber ethics: I think that, as a human being, I’m bound by certain ethical precepts I try to live my life by, but I do not think as a profession that reporters and editors need to think of themselves as bound by an additional, secondary set of ethical restrictions – the way that, say, lawyers or doctors think of themselves as bound by an additional set of conditions. I think it’s more instructive to think of reporters the way people think of tradesman and women. I think it’s a trade rather than a profession – it’s certainly starting to pay more like a trade than a profession. And I think the idea of building up a superstructure of journalism ethics is part of a process of trying to exclude the hoi polloi from the process of reporting and commenting on the news.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.

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